For the Anti-Israel Left, the Jewish State Is but a Screen onto Which It Projects Its Fantasies

Oct. 25 2021

In a recent essay, Susie Linfield examines the history of deluded leftist thinking about Jews and Zionism that has led American anti-Israel activists to assert that Palestinians in the West Bank and African Americans in Ferguson, Missouri are victims of the “exact same system.” She writes:

In the imagination of the Christian West, Jews have been forced to fill every role. For 2,000 years, they have been seen as the ultimate shape-shifters: craven, feeble, abject, weak, and humiliated, but also powerful, conspiratorial, and demonic. They are the prime, indeed fatal, danger to the societies in which they live: arch-capitalists and arch-revolutionaries. Jews are a symbol, a metaphor, an essence. So it should come as no surprise that the state of the Jewish people, where almost half of the world’s Jews live, is also viewed in this way. Israel is both an obsession and an abstraction—as the Jewish people have been for much of Western history.

Or, as Etan Nechin, an Israeli journalist who edits the Bare Life Review, a journal of immigrant and refugee literature, argues, “The left thinks that Israel exists only on a highly ideological-political level. There are no people in it. It’s only a tabula rasa.”

Since Zionism’s inception, the left—following Marx—has often projected its fixations onto Israel and the state’s political conflicts, and thereby sorely misunderstood them. [For instance]: in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a new theory emerged among leftist anti-Zionists: Jews who had fled their homes in the Arab world—Iraq, Yemen, Morocco, and elsewhere—would unite with Palestinians to overthrow the presumably oppressive Zionist state and establish . . . well, something else. These leftist activists assumed a natural—that is, ethnic—affinity between Palestinians and Jews from the Arab world. After all, both were apparently non-European (or, in today’s parlance, “people of color”). The theory proved catastrophically wrong, because it ignored the discrimination—and, sometimes, violence—that Jews had experienced in Arab countries, and the enmities that led many of their Muslim Arab neighbors to drive them out. Today, Arab countries have virtually no Jewish citizens, and Mizraḥi Israelis constitute a key part of the Israeli right’s base.

All this is true enough. Yet Linfield appears to have based her analysis solely on conversations with members of the Israeli left, leading to a distorted picture of the country’s situation. And in making the important point that leftists tend to be as reductive in their view of Palestinians as they are in their view of Israelis, depicting the former “in cartoonlike form as either mighty, unbowed anti-imperialist warriors or innocent, reactive victims,” Linfield asserts that Marwan Barghouti, the primary architect of the second intifada, supports a “two-state solution.” But that isn’t quite true. He might support a “solution” of two states, so long as neither of those states is a Jewish one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Israeli left, Leftism, Mizrahi Jewry

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy